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OH...ROSALINDA!!

UK, 1955 (MIFF 1994, Retrospectives)

Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

It's the occasion for a double celebration: the first screening of Oh...Rosalinda!! on any local theatre or living-room screen for nearly forty years and in the acclaimed new colour restoration as well. Over the last few years, the films of Powell and Pressburger have received critical and public acclaim, and all have been presented at MIFF as new prints became available. But there has been a tantalisingly missing climax to the trilogy commenced with The Red Shoes (art and ballet, 1948) and The Tales Of Hoffmann (art and music, 1951). With Oh...Rosalinda!! Powell and Pressburger brought the operetta Die Fledermaus up to date, retaining Johann Strauss' beloved music to accompany new lyrics by Dennis Arundell. The basis of Die Fledermaus had already been transformed with enormous style and wit by Ernst Lubitsch in his silent Hollywood film So This Is Paris (1926). In Oh...Rosalinda!! the spirit of Lubitsch's revolutionary early talkies is evoked from the moment Anton Walbrook delivers his prologue directly to the audience, just as Maurice Chevalier had done twenty years before.

The city is post World War II Vienna just before the departure of the Four Powers. Eisenstein, a French army colonel, is married to Rosalinda who is having an affair with an American captain. At a grand masque ball hosted by a Russian, the duplicity of the characters follows the best conventions of operetta. With Pressburger providing a biting commentary on the Cold War period, Powell and his usual creative team extend themselves to produce a visual feast, employing early Cinemascope in a truly experimental way. Considered outrageous in its time, everything that was original remains so today. Oh...Rosalinda!! also provides a delightful visual record of the opera star Anneliese Rotheberger, but above all we should welcome this triumphant return of such an effervescent film after far too long an absence.

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